Cosmic tenderness in a time of quarantine

| Liz Kelly | May 21, 2020 | 0 Comments

My sister conveys to me this wonderful story about a well-to-do gentleman, who in his early retirement could be yachting through the south of France or golfing in Bermuda, but decides that he would like to perform some service for his community. He volunteers at a local hospital to be a “cuddler.”

A cuddler is on hand to help with the babies in the nursery, particularly those whose mothers may be in distress and unable to hold them as much as might be needed or as much as they might like.

As you can imagine, the cuddler job is the most coveted volunteer position at the hospital, and the wait to be trained and get approval to serve in this role sometimes takes years. But this gentleman is patient. He attends all the necessary meetings, trainings and vettings, and one day his position in line to active cuddler status jumps up quickly when he volunteers for the less desirable 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. shift. This is where he meets James, a newborn.

James makes it known that he is in need of holding, so this gentleman volunteer scoops him up and settles into a rocking chair.

Their time together begins something like this:

“James,” says the cuddler, “I’m going to tell you all about a wonderful man named Jesus.”

James replies, “Who, Jesus? Oh, I know him. I met him at my conception.”

The cuddler reports that this conversation was made possible because “James spoke to my soul.”

I don’t doubt it for a second.

And I wonder if there weren’t angels all around to witness this quiet, hidden exchange, like Gabriel at the Annunciation delivering his glad tidings. The most momentous of things breaking out over all creation in unimaginable power, and the most reverently concealed intimacy.

And I wonder how many moments like this are taking place all over the world every day at this strange and difficult time in the world’s history. Between the sick and their caregivers and families, between those separated by distance but not by heart, between so many souls and the Blessed Sacrament we long to meet, filling the world with tiny explosions of grace, what Catherine Doherty would call “cosmic tenderness.”

This notion of spiritual Communion: I don’t prefer it to actual Communion, of course, and I find myself rankled by the extension of lockdowns and quarantines. “Enough already.” So goes the interior tantrum.

But then I remember this story of James and his cuddler, and I do not doubt its veracity. I do not doubt it was real and complete and accomplished all that it was meant to accomplish in drawing two souls together — into the heart of Truth.

So too with my Jesus. He will speak to my soul, even in silence, even through sanctioned separation, when I’m in need of being picked up and held a long while and told of the wonders of heaven. It is the pure tenderness of God we meet in spiritual Communion, an unspeakable mercy.

Oh Jesus, may my soul be attentive to that.

Father, breach the chasm, find me and awaken my soul to your presence and grace, quiet and hidden, holding up the universe, accomplishing every good thing.

Kelly is the author of seven books, including “Jesus Approaches” and the “Jesus Approaches Take-Home Retreat.” Find her on Instagram at lizktoday or visit her website at

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Category: Your Heart His Home